Jun 302016
Valley Grange puts their community service notebook "right out front."

Valley Grange puts their community service notebook “right out front.” (2015 file photo)

Thanks to MSG Legislative Director Jim Annis for sharing this press release!

AUGUSTA – Maine Agricultural Fair Season is officially underway, beginning last week with the Maple Meadow Fair Festival in Mapleton and extending into October when Maine holds its largest Fair, the Fryeburg Fair. Maine has twenty-six licensed fairs that take place over the summer and fall, offering visitors opportunities to learn more about agriculture and the communities they take place in.

This year, fairs will be celebrated in a new series of farm-to-fair videos featuring behind the scenes stories of fair participants. They are part of a collaborative effort between the Department and several fair exhibitors to highlight the work and care that goes into traditional activities offered at Maine fairs.

“Through the summer and into fall, Maine’s agricultural fairs showcase our state’s agricultural interests and the communities they are located in,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine fairs highlight the continued growth of Maine agriculture and its contributions to our natural resource economy.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the new series of farm-to-fair videos. “For over 175 years, Maine agricultural fairs have been a part of who we are as a state,” said Whitcomb. “They help connect the public to timeless traditions of rural Maine life. The farm-to-fair videos showcase six important elements of the Maine fair experience: 4-H Show Cattle, Ox Pulling, Horse Pulling, Harness Racing and Barrel Racing. Participants and those who contributed to the creation of this series, have done a great job of capturing the essence of what helps make agricultural fairs unique.”

The new series of farm-to-fair videos:

4-H Show Cattle – https://youtu.be/V1mEqgZY_Pc Ox Pulling – https://youtu.be/cbACUKIzoNE Horse Pulling – https://youtu.be/9UhalPxu6wE Harness Racing – https://youtu.be/OPuOZSGf_AI Barrel Racing – https://youtu.be/MfwMn9tddW8

Quick Facts about Maine’s 2016 Fair Season:

– Maine has 26 licensed fairs – 760,000 people visited Maine fairs in 2015 – $1.65 Million in premiums were paid to exhibitors, directly impacting local economies – Most northern fair: Northern Maine Fair – Presque Isle, ME – Most southern fair: Acton Fair – Acton, ME – Largest fair: Fryeburg Fair (205,000+ visitors) – 2,500+ pairs of professional cattle and horses pulled – 23,000+ crafts projects were displayed in exhibit halls

The full schedule is available at: http://www.mainefairs.org/fairs.html

Additional information on Maine’s agricultural fairs can be found at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/ For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Jun 302016
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

With thanks to Steven Haycock and Norma Meserve for locating and sending it, we now have a pattern for a Grange table scarf available for download and printing in the CWA section of the Program Books and Information Page.

It’s a great idea to visit this page from time-to-time… there are lots of resources available, listed by committee or topic.

Jun 252016

So. Sangerville Grange is getting ready for its annual bean hole supper Saturday. Members spent Friday preparing the fires and setting the beans in the holes. They even put Junior Director Christine Hebert to work! Tomorrow we will all be helping at the supper.

Jun 252016

PEST ALERT from the Maine Department of Agriculture

I had a BROWNTAIL caterpillar infestation and now I have cocoons!

What to do: Use caution – cocoons are full of the hairs THAT CAN CAUSE A RASH. Remember that these hairs will persist until next year or longer.

If you want to remove the cocoons (different from the overwintering webs):

  • Wear protective clothing
  • Wet down cocoons before removing them

Pressure wash or scrape cocoons off structures or clip out of favorite plants:

  • Put a drop cloth under area to collect themBrown Tail Moth Caterpillars
  • Let soak overnight in soapy water and compost or dispose in trash

Browntail caterpillars wander and form their cocoons anywhere in the area. Favorite places are:

  • Under the eaves on a building, on the underside of anything
  • In the leaves of any plant


Additional photos and complete information  available here!



Jun 232016
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

National Grange Store

A recent memo from National Grange advises that as of July 1, the Grange will be partnering with Monroe Classic as the primary Grange Store and supplier for merchandise not at the core of our fraternal business (such as songbooks, demit cards, certificates, treasurer’s books, etc.).

The suggestion is that any orders be placed by Wednesday, June 29 so they can be filled before the changeover. There may be some fulfillment and shipping delays during the changeover as merchandise is transferred to Monroe Classic.

Officer Installation Information

Note that we’ve added two teams and a schedule of installations to this year’s Officer Installation Post. Note also that the Communications Department has developed a form that installation teams often find helpful when installing multiple Granges. Download and print a copy here. Please submit information regarding any installation teams and installations!

Jun 212016

The Fundraising Committee’s Craft Fair and Yard Sale is this Saturday, June 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  There will also be a bake sale, t-shirts, raffles, and vintage metal Grange signs.  A light lunch will also be available thanks to some of the members of Danville Junction. Grange.  I’m hoping for a great turn out and to see lots of old friends that day. Karen Flagg is in charge of the bake sale and I’m sure she would appreciate if people could bring some goodies.  If you would still like to donate items, our committee will be at State Grange HQ after 1:00 p.m. on Friday to accept any donations.  The weather is supposed to be nice so let’s hope for a great day!

State Grange Headquarters is located at 146 State Street in Augusta… all are welcomed!

Jun 192016

National Grange Legislative Director
belleratnationalgrangedotorg  (belleratnationalgrangedotorg)  

Local and state Grange sessions begin soon around the country.  These meetings of grassroots Grange members are the origin of National Grange public policy and operating procedures.

Resolutions traditionally address public issues like the stewardship of land, water, animals, property rights and rural communities.  Other initiatives might address community service, good citizenship, food policy, quality education, infrastructure, rural broadband and urban-rural relationships.

Increasingly, access to local, affordable, quality medical care and prescription drugs are top-of-mind issues for Grangers.

As every Grange member knows and appreciates, the Grange is truly a bottom up organization.  Policy begins with resolutions that originate at the local Grange by local Grangers.  Resolutions adopted at local level are forwarded to the state Grange for consideration at the annual state session.   After the state session, adopted resolutions are sent to the National Grange for consideration at the Annual Session.  Resolutions adopted there become National Grange policy.  This policy gives direction to National Grange officers and staff as they tackle external public policy issues and administer internal Grange operations.

Resolutions properly written and narrowly focused stand the best chance of adoption throughout the policy process.  Resolutions of local resolve stay at the local level for action.  The same is true for statewide issues.  If resolutions are meant to address nationwide issues, they should target national concerns and solutions.

Webmaster’s Note: For information about submitting resolutions to state Grange, contact Jim Annis, Maine State Grange Legislative Director. Additional resources regarding writing resolutions may be found on the Program Books and Information Page.

Jun 172016

National Grange Membership/Leadership Director
membershipatnationalgrangedotorg  (membershipatnationalgrangedotorg)  

RetentionAny decline in membership has a negative impact on Grange programs and diminishes the public presence local Granges have in their communities. When we encounter these declines, we must seriously consider what is causing the problem and how to solve it. Instinctively, we all come to the conclusion that we should just seek out new members and ask them to join the Grange.

However, what we fail to consider is that membership declines occur because of two reasons, the second reason being that we are losing existing members. Some loses are inevitable; we cannot evade the passing of members from this life to the great Grange above, but we can make every effort possible to ensure that our members are furnished with every reason possible to renew their membership. When members are of the mindset that their membership is valued by others, then they will be more likely and willing to share the organization with others.

We recruit thousands of new members a year, but what good does this do if we lose as many members because they’re not renewing their membership? How can excited new members suddenly become disheartened? From my experiences and observations, some say that after joining the Grange, no one reached out to them, welcomed them or made sure they felt they were truly a Brother or Sister of the Order. Then when it came time to renew their membership, no one contacted them. To thrive as an organization, we must adopt the mantra: to recruit, but also retain. Grange members work hard in their communities every day to bring new members into our organization, but we as the whole Grange must work even harder to build lasting relationships with every person who is a Grange member who joins our organization.

New members are wonderful additions to our organization. They bring vitality, new ideas and new connections to the Grange, but by neglecting to work to retain those members we bring in, we’re taking two steps forward and one step back.  Each Grange needs a clear strategy and volunteers devoted to membership retention and emphasis needs to be placed on building lasting relationships with new and existing members who will ultimately sustain our organization and keep Grange programs, activities and events operating into the future.

Here are 20 tips for bolstering membership retention:

  1. Send a thank you note for joining or volunteering. This could a physical card or an e-mail.
  2. Give an incentive, such as a free gift, to members who renew their membership by a certain date.
  3. Communicate successes to members regularly.
  4. When sending out membership renewal notices, provide a recap of the activities and events of the past year and tell how membership benefited them this year.
  5. Send a special certificate of thanks to members who renew their membership for the first-time. Market research on organizations shows the first two years produce the most drops. Focus hard on the first renewal.
  6. Develop a written retention plan. In this plan include goals such as retention rate, percent of drops that were first year members, activities to be undertaken, resources available to help, etc.
  7. Do a survey of important questions and issues as they arise. Ask members what projects/activities/events they would like to see the Grange host and how they can commit to helping the Grange.
  8. Establish a member-mentoring plan. When someone joins your Grange, assign them to a current member(s) who will be a welcoming and friendly face for the new member when they come to their second meeting. Have the mentor explain the responsibilities and obligations of Grange membership, the ritual and traditions of the Grange and the structure of our organization. By doing this, a new member will be fully versed in the Grange structure, history and traditions as they begin their Grange journey.
  9. When looking to retain members, reach out to those who were formerly members and didn’t renew their membership. Ask them why they didn’t renew, tell what activities/projects your Grange is conducting and then ask them to rejoin your Grange.
  10. Keep experienced members active through targeted involvement. It is important to keep both current and new members interested and involved. Keep the activities meaningful.
  11. During functions, suggest that officers look for new members and spend time with them. Have a special name tag for new members indicating their status.
  12. When a new member joins, e-mail congratulations from the Master or Secretary that same day.
  13. There are only two forms of currency that we can use to “pay” our members: Recognition and tradition!! Look for any opportunity to recognize any member’s contribution. Draw upon the Grange’s rich traditions to create a sense of being and inclusion.
  14. Have new members serve as greeters during a meeting so they can get to know all the members.
  15. Keep the FUN in fundraisers, community service activities and meetings to get members interested and involved. You can still accomplish your goals while keeping the process lively and fun.
  16. Remember that the best time to retain members is BEFORE they show signs of dissatisfaction. Make sure members know you care about them. If they start missing meetings or are becoming less involved in activities, give them a call to find out why before it becomes a chronic situation.
  17. Encourage input from your members regarding your Grange’s community activities. Ask new members for their ideas — they may have some fresh, exciting thoughts, and asking for their input will show that you are interested in their opinions.
  18. Involve new members in Grange activities quickly. Have them participate in an event as soon as they show an interest in your Grange. Ask them to co-chair a committee or coordinate a small activity in the early stages of their membership.
  19. Don’t let activities and fundraisers become stale. Make sure that your association’s activities are still relevant for your community and your members. Periodically try something new.
  20. Let members be involved at their comfort level and respect that level of involvement. Some members are comfortable jumping in feet first while others prefer to just come to meeting and test the waters for a while. Be sure to actively communicate with members to know what their comfortable level of participation is.
Jun 162016

stick_figure_holding_membership_card_400_clr_3914In the last few days of membership year 2016 don’t forget to think about participating in the contest from the Membership Department. The program is very simple; we are looking to recognize members who put forth the effort to bring in new members to our organization, whether it is 1 or 100. This program will begin on January 1, 2016 and end on June 30, 2016.

Members who recruit new members will be recognized for their efforts at the 150th Annual Session of the National Grange. Members who recruit 1-4 new members will be recognized as a “+1 Builder”. Members that recruit 5-9 new members will be recognized as a “Grange Builder” and members that recruit 10 or more new member will be recognized as a “Super Recruiter”.

The count is based on who signs the first recommendation line on a new member’s application. Attached is the form for Subordinate Secretaries to keep track of who has recruited members into their Grange. The form is broken out by month to make it easier for Secretaries to keep track. At the close of the 2nd quarter of 2016, Subordinate Secretaries will submit this along with their quarterly report, which can then be emailed directly to the Membership Director at membershipatnationalgrangedotorg.

A brief letter explaining the contest and a form for Subordinate Secretaries to use to submit entries is available on the Maine State Grange website under Program Books and Information. (Scroll down to the membership section.)

Jun 152016

Christine Hebert1by Christine Hebert, Junior Director

Wow, July already! We will be having the judging for the Junior Grange Contests Saturday, July 16 at the Family Campout Weekend, along with a Chinese auction that will be run by Norma, let’s remember to bring some donated items for this event. See you there.